Since 2012, I've experimented with various versions of ketosis, put myself through brutal laboratory experiments and multi-day races with different iterations of this increasingly popular diet, and written plenty of articles and recorded plenty of podcasts about ketosis before, including:
-And many more (just use the upper right hand search function here on my site to search for “ketosis”)
But I recently learned something about ketones that I never before fully realized, something that inspired me to begin knocking back a daily dose of beta-hydroxy-butyrate (BHB) ketone salts prior to my afternoon/early evening workouts -workouts that I'd normally, up until the recent past, enter into in a completely fasted state having not eaten lunch for the previous 4-6 hours.
Yep – I'm now slamming back a serving of “exogenous ketones” prior to these workouts (and as a non-blood-sugar-spiking, pick-me-up on easy days) not just for the extra boost in energy, cognition and blood flow…
…but also because ketones – and this is my recent discovery – have now been proven to have some pretty potent anti-aging, longevity enhancing properties.
So in this article, I'm going to tell you exactly what I recently discovered about ketones and longevity, along with many other benefits of ketones, how to maximize the efficacy of ketosis, and the ketone supplement I use just about every afternoon now before my later afternoon or early evening workouts.
How Ketones Can Help You Live Longer
Very recently, Dr. Richard Veech (my former podcast guest from the episode “Could This Ketosis-Based Elixir Hold The Key To Weight Loss, World Record Performances, Brain Healing and More?“) published the article ““Ketone bodies mimic the life span extending properties of caloric restriction”.
In the article, Dr. Veech and his colleagues describe how the extension of life span by caloric restriction has been studied across species from yeast and Caenorhabditis elegans to primates. He then proposes that the life span extension produced by caloric restriction could be exactly duplicated by the metabolic changes induced by ketosis or the consumption of exogenous ketones.
How could this be?
From nematodes to mice, extension of life span results from decreased signaling through the insulin/insulin-like growth factor receptor signaling (IIS) pathway. Decreased signaling in this pathway diminishes the availability of something called phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5) triphosphate (PIP3) production, leading to decreased phosphorylation activity of a well known longevity contributing protein called forkhead box O transcription factor (FOXO), allowing FOXO proteins to remain in the nucleus.
In the nucleus, FOXO proteins increase the transcription of genes encoding a host of important antioxidant enzymes, including superoxide dismutase 2, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and hundreds of other genes. An effective method for combating free radical damage occurs through the metabolism of ketone bodies, which makes sense, since ketosis is the prime physiological change brought about by caloric restriction – from fruit flies to primates to humans.
The ketone body, d-β-hydroxybutyrate (d-βHB) in particular (pronounced beta-hydroxy-butyrate and often abbreviated BHB), is a natural inhibitor of class I and IIa histone deacetylases that repress transcription of the FOXO3a gene. This means that ketosis results in transcription and upregulation of the enzymes of the antioxidant pathways.
In addition, the metabolism of ketone bodies results in a more negative redox potential of the NADP antioxidant system, which is a terminal destructor of oxygen free radicals. Addition of BHB to cultures of C. elegans has been shown to extend life span, and Veech hypothesizes that increasing the levels of ketone bodies will also extend the life span of humans – and that calorie restriction extends life span at least in part through increasing the levels of ketone bodies.
An exogenous ketone supplement would provide for a new way to mimic the effects of caloric restriction, with the idea that the ability to power mitochondria in aged individuals that have limited ability to oxidize glucose (due to something called “pyruvate dehydrogenase inhibition”) indicates a huge potential for preventative measures and treatments for aging and aging-related disorders..
Veech's latest article goes on to describe the unique ability of ketone bodies to supply energy to the brain during periods of impairment of glucose metabolism or low carbohydrate availability, making ketosis an effective treatment for a number of neurological conditions. Impairment of cognitive function has also been shown to be improved by the metabolism of ketone bodies and in addition, Alzheimer's disease, the major cause of which is aging, has been shown to be improved clinically by the induction of ketosis in a mouse model of the disease and also in humans. Ketones are now being heavily studied for the potential to treat Alzheimer's disease. In Alzheimer's patients, there is a glucose-brain-fuel deficit that occurs well before the cognitive decline that Alzheimer's patients experience. In these patients, the brain often relies on glucose for its main fuel source, so studies are now taking place to understand the effects of increasing ketone availability to the brain to improve cognitive abilities for Alzheimer's using oral ketogenic supplements.
And Alzheimer's ain't all. Ketosis also improves function in Parkinson's disease (thought to be caused by mitochondrial free radical damage), is useful in ameliorating the symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and could have important therapeutic applications in a wide variety of other diseases, including Glut 1 deficiency, type I diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance.
In addition to ameliorating a number of diseases associated with aging, the general deterioration of cellular systems with age, independent of specific disease, can be related to Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) toxicity and the human body's growing inability to combat this toxicity. In contrast, increases in life span occur across a number of species with a reduction in function of the IIS pathway mentioned earlier, and/or an activation of the FOXO transcription factors, which induces expression of the enzymes required for free radical detoxification.
In a nutshell, this means that decreased signaling through the insulin/IGF-1 receptor pathway (via ketosis, for example) increases life span, and decreased insulin/IGF-1 receptor activation leads to a decrease in PIP3, a decrease in the phosphorylation and activity of phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase (PDPK1), a decrease in the phosphorylation and activity of AKT, and a subsequent decrease in the phosphorylation of FOXO transcription factors, allowing the FOXO factors to continue to reside in the nucleus and to increase the transcription of the enzymes of the antioxidant pathway. An added important factor is that the metabolism of ketone bodies increases the reducing power of the NADP antioxidant system, providing the ability to destroy oxygen free radicals – a major cause of the aging process.
So this means that there are far more to ketones than simply providing an alternate source of energy for our bodies. There have been numerous studies that attempt to understand the human aging process and how we could slow down the effects of aging, such as a loss of physical functioning and declining cognitive performance.When restricting rats' food intake by 10% or more in scientific studies, the rats lived longer, leading to the conclusion that eating in excess drives aging faster. Other studies on a range of living organisms from yeast to rodents to monkeys have shown us that restricting calories without malnutrition can extend the lifespan – but most people are unable to restrict calories drastically for long periods of time (and who wants to live a long time if you're cold and hungry the entire time, right?)
In addition to guys like Dr. Veech looking at the use of exogenous ketones to extend life, researchers like Dr. Neil Copes have investigated the metabolic effects of long-term fasting to prolong human life. Just like Dr. Veech, Dr. Copes is now looking specifically at beta-hydroxy-butrate (BHB) as a possible way to induce ketosis and replicate the longevity that is experienced in caloric restriction studies (just listen to this fascinating podcast interview with my friend Dan Pardi to see what I mean).
So what this means is that you can now add the use of exogenous ketones (even in the presence of carbohydrate intake, since the effects are going beyond simple blood sugar regulation!) to your list of anti-aging protocols such as optimizing air quality, getting plenty of sunlight, drinking clear and naturally charged water, electricity, high wild plant intake, hormesis, avoiding high amounts of protein from meat and dairy, relationships, a gratitude practice and other commonly known longevity strategies.
What Are Ketones?
Now that you realize the longevity benefits of ketones, it's time to delve into the perfectly reasonable question of what exactly a ketone is. From a very literal standpoint, a ketone is any organic compound that includes a carbon atom attached to an oxygen atom through a double covalent bond. In other words, the two atoms in a ketone need to be sharing the same double set of electrons. In addition to this stipulation, the carbon atom must also be attached to two other carbon atoms simultaneously. This unique set of connections is technically what makes a ketone a ketone.
Ketones – more specifically the beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) form of ketones – not only serve as a primary source of fuel for the liver, heart, diaphragm and other important body tissues, but can also act like an emergency fuel supply for our bodies that is created by the liver when there is not enough glucose in our system. This phenomenon typically happens when you're fasting or not taking in a large amount of carbohydrates. The liver will then break down fat and create the ketones when your sugar level is low, such as when you haven’t eaten for a long time or have burnt through most of your glycogen stores during a workout. The liver will create this fuel supply, and do so quite readily as you sleep at night or at any time during the day if you happen to be restricting calories or dieting.
Ketone production is a perfectly healthy function of the human body. Of course, this is not the case for some. People with diabetes, for example, can experience a pretty intense struggle with the ketones their liver is producing. If a diabetic has a low insulin level, the liver will continue to work in overdrive, creating unhealthy levels of ketones. This will often result in an emergency medical situation because the pH in the bloodstream becomes far too low, leading to a state of ketoacidosis (which should not be confused with ketosis, although it often is). This is an especially dangerous condition because it’s really hard to diagnose. So be sure that if you’re a diabetic, or even hypoglycemic, you understand the effects of ketones, ketosis and how to monitor your insulin levels.
Ketones can allow us, as mammals, to withstand extremely long time periods of starvation. Not many mammals can literally go a full month without eating any food. This is obviously not recommended, but ketones as an emergency energy source can keep us alive that long (or even longer for some). This normal metabolic process is called ketosis. Self-inflicted ketosis, in the absence of forced starvation, is an increasingly common way for individuals to burn fat cells away or enhance their physique. The thought process here is that if your body has to rely on this excess fat that is being broken down for energy rather than carbohydrates, you’re going to burn even more fat cells away. Obviously there is some risk involved with this strategy, such as hormonal deficits or drop in thyroid activity when combined with excessive physical activity, but when carefully monitored, ketosis is extremely effective and perfectly healthy.
In addition to the rapid weight loss, ketosis often leads to a psyche change. Most of us are trained to eat three square meals a day. Some of us may choose to eat several smaller meals throughout the day. One thing is for sure: we eat regularly. By limiting your methods and frequencies of consumption, you acquire a new fondness of appetite suppression via the process of ketone production. You won’t think about eating as often and eventually, you're soon able to train your gut to stop feeling hungry quite as frequently, especially if you're staying hydrated with a higher amount of water and mineral intake (a strategy crucial for healthy ketosis, but frequently neglected).
Ketones are also a better fuel source for our brains. It has been proven that ketones can meet 70% of the brain’s needs in a more efficient manner than the more commonly used glucose. In the particular study noted above, it is written that a mixture of ketones with hypertonic saline can prove to be beneficial for recovery in people with head injuries. This is likely the type of research that will lead to exogenous ketone supplementation as a therapeutic option when someone suffers from a concussion, head trauma or other brain injuries. As a result, there are many drinks that are close to hitting the mainstream market for athletes that are specifically involved in sports such as MMA, boxing, football, hockey, or other serious contact sports (and one of the best recent brain-enhancing books I read recently, which will be released soon and which I've already recorded a podcast with the author about, swears by ketosis for such athletes).
Interestingly, should you have a high amount of ketones leftover in your system when you begin to return to a consumption of carbohydrates and glucose, the ketones can actually metabolize and morph into other useful substances for your body.
And then there's this most recent research study on the benefits of a ketogenic diet for body composition and well-being in endurance athletes, which reports that “each athlete reported experiencing enhanced well-being, included improved recovery, improvements in skin conditions and reduced inflammation”.
Anyway, the benefits of ketosis go on and on, as you can easily see if you simply go “Google” any of the research by guys like Jeff Volek, Richard Veech and Dominic D' Agostino. These guys are steeped in ketosis studies done well, and coming up with some very compelling results on the host of benefits derived from exogenous ketones as well as calorically restricted or high-fat diet induced ketosis.
How To Eat Yourself Into Ketosis
Some of us don’t create ketones as quickly or as effectively as others (this breath monitor is how I personally test ketones and an easy way to do it if you don't want to hassle with blood measurements). There are of course exogenous ketones and supplements out there that can help increase ketone levels or alter lipid metabolism favorably.
But in addition to the supplements that you can purchase over the counter or on the internet (more on ketone supplements shortly), there are a number of foods that you can eat to help increase your ketone level and ensure that you have a nutrient-rich low carbohydrate diet:
- Seafood. Eat as much safe seafood fish as you want. Fish contains close to no carbohydrates at all and are high in omega-3 fats, lowering insulin levels and encouraging the body’s ability to create ketones. Overweight people are often less sensitive to insulin and these omega-3 fats can help increase the sensitivity, leading to positive weight loss results. Of course, in addition to fish, you must throw in my world-famous “keto burger” every now and again.
- It seems every ketogenic diet plan you come across will have one “fruit” in common: avocados. They’re one of the more nutrient-dense, high-fat foods that you can snack on and are advised to be included in many regular meals as well. Potassium is found in high amounts in avocados and conveniently, can help people who are just starting out keto-dieting or who need a better potassium:sodium ratio (also a common issue with regular ketosis).
- Replace your typical cooking oils with mostly coconut oil. The lauric acid that you can get from coconut oil will allow you to maintain a higher level of ketosis for a longer period of time. It’s also nice to know that consuming the sweet and tasty coconut oil has led to reduction in waistlines!
- Veggies, veggies, veggies. Green vegetables, specifically, are very low in carbs. It’s a good idea to use vegetables to substitute for potatoes, rice, or bread. The fiber in the vegetables will help you feel full and prevent you from eating the counter-productive carbs. There are plenty of books that teach you how to incorporate veggies successfully, with my favorites of late being by author Maria Emmerich (podcast coming soon!).
- Eggs. Most ketogenic diet plans suggest you consume an average of two eggs every single day. This is partially because the protein in eggs will make you feel less hungry and thus help to keep your calorie intake at a lower level. Just be sure that you eat the entire egg, not just the whites. Eggs have a heavy amount of antioxidants and can prevent heart disease, while simultaneously boosting hormones via the high level of cholesterol inherently in yolk.
- Nuts. Eat them lightly roasted, unroasted and raw, or (my favorite method) soaked and sprouted. Some of the most healthy and overlooked foods on the planet are a decent mixture of high-fat nuts with a bit of sea salt or touch of extra virgin olive oil: macadamia nut, “Baru” nut, Brazil nuts, almonds and walnuts top my list. Mixed nuts can provide that full feeling you’re looking for when craving a snack while simultaneously improving your heart health.
- Berries. These little fellas pack a huge nutrient punch at a low glycemic index, and have a host of the essential vitamins that your immune system needs to stay healthy and pro-active. For a serious ketone enthusiast, this is one of the few fruits you should be consuming.
For more of my favorite pantry foods and staples, just click here. Of course, it should be noted that in a hypercaloric state, with of any of the foods above, you're likely going to be able to create enough glucose from excess protein or glycerol from excess fat to be able to shove yourself straight out of ketosis, so bear in mind that calories still matter.
Now, whether you decide to achieve ketosis through dieting, intermittent fasting, carbohydrate restriction and high fat intake; or whether you decide to achieve ketosis by shoveling carbohydrates indiscriminately into your gaping maw while simultaneously guzzling down exogenous ketone liquids and powder; or whether you decide to achieve ketosis via the entire former method and the good end half of the latter method (read that entire section above again carefully if you need to), there is definitely an advantage to getting your hands on a decent source of exogenous ketones…
…so let's next turn to my latest favorite option for exogenous ketone supplementation.
A New Form Of Ketones
As you learned earlier, I've been knocking back a serving of ketones prior to my afternoon or early evening “fasted workout”, and it's made a profound difference in my pre-workout lack of motivation, mild fatigue, and uncomfortable push through the initial hypoglycemia that often occurs during fasted workouts – all without actually causing a spike in my glucose or insulin levels.
While I'm constantly trying the latest, greatest and (often) gag-inducing ketone supplements out there (including the $3000 ketone esters produced by Richard Veech's lab), I've been experimenting of late with a serving of exogenous ketone salts called Keto1, made by a new supplement company called “Vaxxen Labs”.
Unlike the majority of ketone supplements that show up at my front door, this one happens to be free of any artificial sweeteners and coloring agents, making it entirely natural. It is vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free, and tastes like a glass of fresh apple cider. Instead of using cheap Chinese ketone salts and bad-batch, poorly produced generics, this stuff is produced with a patented form of the ketone salt beta-hydroxy butyrate called “GoBHB”. The certified raw materials go through a full manufacturing audit, and every batch is pre-market tested for a wide variety of WADA banned substance.
Keto1 also has a few extra goodies added to it, namely:
-Taurine: Studies reveal taurine magnifies insulin's effects in the body, allowing for better nutrient uptake and utilization of carbohydrates in the presence of low amounts of insulin. This means better performance when still in a carbohydrate-depleted state (which should be your main focus when following the ketogenic diet). In these studies, taurine causes the stimulation of glycolysis (the breaking down of glucose and formation of pyruvate with the subsequent production of two molecules of ATP).The pyruvate end product of glycolysis can then be used in either anaerobic respiration if no oxygen is available or in aerobic respiration via the TCA cycle, which yields much more usable energy for the cell.
-L-Tyrosine: Tyrosine is an amino acid, and oral doses of L-tyrosine can result in increases in circulating concentrations of something called catecholamines, which are hormones, because tyrosine is a precursor to these hormones. More specifically, these catecholamines are epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine and are heavily involved in the regulation of body function during physical stress and exercise. These are all part of the sympathetic nervous system – so, along with the caffeine in this product, you get a natural “pick-me-up” from Keto1 without, once again, adding sugar and carbs into the equation. Tyrosine also causes increased production of the feel-good chemical dopamine, staves off low-carb brain fog while enhancing cognition, and reduces the effects of stress and and fatigue on cognitive task performance.
-Glucuronolactone: Glucuronolactone, a naturally occurring substance in your body, aids in cleansing harmful toxins from the liver and in diminishing the concentration of glycogen to help you reach a state of ketosis – all while aiding in cleansing your body. As an added benefit to the L-Tyrosine, an Australian study suggests Glucuronolactone in conjunction with Caffeine and Taurine can act to increase mental performance and improve your mood.
-Beet root powder: As a source of nitrate, beetroot ingestion provides a natural means of increasing in vivo nitric oxide (NO) availability and has emerged as a potential strategy to prevent and manage pathologies associated with diminished NO bioavailability, notably hypertension and endothelial function. Beetroot is also being considered as a promising therapeutic treatment in a range of clinical pathologies associated with oxidative stress and inflammation. Its constituents, most notably the betalain pigments, display potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and chemo-preventive activity in vitro and in vivo. So basically, it's like Viagra for your entire body.
In a nutshell, here's what the full Keto1 label looks like:
Notice that Keto1 is sweetened not just with natural stevia, but also with erythritol, one of the only sugar alcohols I personally consume. Erythritol is almost non-caloric (0.2 calories per gram) and about 60-70% as sweet as sugar. Unlike the other sugar alcohols, it does not cause “fart city” and it’s the only sugar alcohol that doesn’t cause gastrointestinal distress because your body absorbs it rather than allowing it to pass to the colon for fermentation. It doesn’t affect blood sugar or insulin, and it cannot be fermented by dental bacteria in your mouth (although it does have some of xylitol’s inhibitory effect on dental caries causing oral bacteria).
Another sweetener is the katemfe fruit extract, which is a source of the protein “Thaumatin”.Thaumatin is sweet, with a slow onset, lingering sweetness and a licorice after-taste. It is isolated from the katemfe fruit, Thaumatococcus daniellii Benth, also called “the miraculous fruit of the Sudan.” Katemfe is common in the West African rain forest zone. The fruit contains 1-3 black seeds surrounded by a gel, and capped with a membranous sac, the aril, which contains the sweet material. The end result is, like I mentioned earlier, a beverage that tastes like an ice cold apple cider.
There is no MCT powder or coconut oil in Keto1. It is just comprised mainly of the active ingredient of pure ketone salts – so if you want to blend it with a source of medium chain triglycerides for added calories or increased ketone production by the liver (a decent strategy), then that's definitely an option. You can also easily mix it with powdered amino acids or powdered electrolytes as a complete energy drink for longer days, longer workouts, or – when blended with ice and/or full fat coconut milk or coconut oil – an extremely low calorie, ketogenic friendly, rocket-fuel-esque “meal”.
Finally – should you be competing in sanctioned sports like collegiate events, triathlon, obstacle course racing, swimming, cycling, running, MMA, etc. – you should know this stuff is clean. Unlike many ketone products, Keto1 is Informed-Choice certified. Informed-Choice is a quality assurance program for sports nutrition products, suppliers to the sports nutrition industry, and supplement manufacturing facilities. It is a monitoring program that certifies that a supplement product and/or raw material that bears the Informed-Choice logo has been “skip-lot” tested (tested at least on a monthly basis) for banned substances by a world-class sports anti-doping lab.
Try this stuff for yourself.
I recommend one serving before a tough, fasted workout of anywhere from 30-60 minutes in duration (or, for even more firepower, combining it with any of the ketosis strategies I talk about here), and then a serving every 40-60 minutes thereafter for longer workouts. You can also sip Keto1 during a long morning or afternoon bout of work at the office, without spiking blood sugar or consuming excess calories.
You get a 30 day money back guarantee, a 100% no-risk promise, a full 30 days worth of Keto1 at only $3.33 per day, and (for a limited time while their supplies last) up to a 33% discount when you click here for my special readers-only deal. No code required! Your discount automatically reflects when clicking “add to cart” based on how many bottles you add. No further input of a coupon is needed.
And since you know that it's possible to build muscle on a low carbohydrate diet, you should definitely look into this natural steroid alternative, muscle-building stack, also by Vaxxen Labs.
And that's it. Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback about ketones or this new “Keto1” stuff or questions for me about ketosis in general? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!